NDIS, education before election, Gillard tells Woodford crowd

A street theatre performance at the Woodford Folk Festival.
A street theatre performance at the Woodford Folk Festival.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme and continuing education reforms are her New Year's resolutions ahead of the 2013 federal election.

Ms Gillard, who today became the first sitting Prime Minister to attend the Woodford Folk Festival on the Sunshine Coast, joined her predecessor Bob Hawke in a panel discussion with festival director Bill Hauritz in front of around 5000 festivalgoers.

Ms Gillard took the opportunity to call on Queenslanders to lobby the Newman government to ensure it worked with Canberra on the NDIS.

"You're already missing the launch on July 1," she said.

After initial reluctance, Premier Campbell Newman earlier this month offered to chip in nearly $900 million over five years to help ensure the rollout of the NDIS in the state.

Mr Newman had previously expressed concern over Queensland's financial ability to contribute to the scheme in coming years.

Ms Gillard also said that Australia had received a "fair old wake-up call" in national education testing, and was committed to improving standards.

"We can make sure our kids get a world class education," she said.

Reflecting on 2012, Ms Gillard highlighted the establishment of the carbon pricing scheme as her government's biggest achievement.

She said that while working as a minority government had been tough, it had forced Labor to operate in a way that was more co-operative across both Houses of Parliament.

Mr Hawke said the rough ride Ms Gillard had experienced since becoming Prime Minister was unparallelled in Australian political history.

"There's absolutely no question anybody has faced such difficult as my dear friend Julia has," he said.

Ms Gillard admitted that the downside of being the first female PM was the focus on her hair, makeup and clothes, to which Mr Hawke agreed.

"I didn't hear that, and I was no perfect male model," he quipped.

Some audiences members expressed frustration when told that there would be no time for questions, but were hushed by fellow attendees.

Called on by an audience member to sing, Ms Gillard replied with a polite refusal.

"We are a Welsh family, so  we should be able to sing, but the Gillards are the only non-singing Welsh people on the planet," she said.

"So no, I won't be singing a song."

Ms Gillard and Mr Hawke received a standing ovation as the discussion finished.

The Prime Minister then visited the children's section of the Woodford Folk Festival, even joining in with the "Hokey Pokey".

Ms Gillard also offered her condolences to the family of cricketing great and commentator Tony Greig, who died Saturday of a heart attack.

"Summers aren't going to be the same without Tony Greig," she said.

"He's become one of the sounds of our summer, someone who is noted in three nations: South Africa, the UK and here in Australia.

"Of course, Tony started off as a cricketing rival, but became a great friend, and the nation is going to mourn his loss.

"As PM, I offer my condolences to his family, who would be going through such a difficult time. We're thinking of them."

This story NDIS, education before election, Gillard tells Woodford crowd first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.